224 B- POLEVOI
of these long and yet short twenty-eight days must be
devoted to the struggle to become a real man.
Sitting in his bed in the ghostly light of the moon
amidst the sounds of the major's snoring, Alexei mentally
drew up a plan of exercises. In it he included morning
and evening gymnastics, walking, running, special foot
training, and what attracted him most, what promised to
provide all-round development for his legs, was the idea
that had occurred to him when he had talked to Zino-
He decided to learn to dance.
On a clear, tranquil August afternoon, when every-
thing in nature was sparkling and glittering, when there
already were certain as yet imperceptible signs of the
sad touch of autumn in the hot air, several airmen were
basking in the sun on the sandy bank of a tiny stream
that wound and rippled through the bushes.
Languid from the heat, they dozed, and even tireless
Burnazyan was silent, heaping the warm sand on his
broken leg, that had healed badly. They were hidden from
view by the grey leaves of a hazel bush, but they were
able to see a path that had been trodden in the green
grass on the upper bank of the stream. While engaged
with his leg, Burnazyan happened to look up and a
strange spectacle met his eyes.
The newcomer who had arrived the day before emerged
from the wood wearing only pyjama trousers and boots.
He looked around and finding nobody in sight began to
run in queer hops, pressing his elbows to his sides. After
running about two hundred metres he dropped into a
walking pace, breathing heavily and sweating. After re-
covering his wind he began to run again. His body shone
like the flanks of a winded horse. Burnazyan silently drew
his comrades' attention to the runner and they began to
watch him from behind the bush. The newcomer was
panting from these simple exercises, every now and again
he winced with pain, groaned, but went on running.
Unable to restrain himself any longer, Burnazyan